College Football

Hawks' homework is getting up to speed offensively

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 26, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY -- Once Trey Mosley figured out the nuances of online learning, he shifted his focus to staying in shape.

"I don't have anything else to do but run," Mosley said.

That's not necessarily true. There's plenty of studying to do.

Formations. Coverages. Personnel. Plays.

His preparation for August is as daunting as any class he's taken at Quincy University.

The junior quarterback needs to be well versed in it all before the QU football team hits campus late in the summer -- provided the coronavirus pandemic has passed and students are allowed to return by then -- as he assumes the reins of the offense.

"I'm watching a lot of film and we're having a lot of meetings talking about formations and coverages," said Mosley, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Belleville Althoff product who will be in his fourth season at QU. "It's really breaking down what football really is instead of just a broad view."

That's more important now than at any point in his career.

The stay-at-home order decreed by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker began March 21, four days after the Hawks were scheduled to begin spring practice. They never took the field and the spring game, scheduled for April 18, was canceled.

It created quite a challenge for Mosley and the rest of the offense. Ryan Olson was named offensive coordinator January 10 and began implementing the changes he wants to make. It won't be a total overhaul of what the Hawks did last season, but it will be somewhat different.

Under the direction of Keith Barefield, who left to join the staff at the University of Louisiana, the QU offense enjoyed a record-setting season last fall. The Hawks finished with 4,898 yards of total offense, 3,341 yards passing, 272 first downs and averaged 30 points per game.

They tried to play fast as well, averaging 80 plays per game -- the highest average of the NCAA Division II era.

Olson's offense likely won't rival that, and he'd like to see better balance. The ability to do that comes with being able to install and implement a full package of plays, and the Hawks have been able to do a majority of that without the on-field reps.

"We've had a chance to really slow down and make sure everything fits how it's supposed to," Olson said. "Normally when you have a change with a coordinator or a change in the system, you're usually rushed because it happens after the season and you're rushed to get ready for spring ball or it happens between spring ball and the fall and you're rushed to get ready for the first game.

"We have the fortune of not having to rush anything as we install it."

It's giving Mosley, redshirt freshman quarterback Cole Martin and others time to learn it as well.

"I'll be able to sit down and know everything instead of getting thrown in there and trying to figure it out as I go and having to adjust on the fly when I'm out there doing stuff," Mosley said.

It's more than just knowing formations and plays.

Mosley has worked diligently with Olson to understand the terminology they want to use in calling plays and being able to express that in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage.

"The thing that helped us, as early as we were able to make changes, we were able to do a little bit of teaching of at least the verbage of what we were going to call things," Olson said. "That helped us a ton. We were able to make those changes and get (quarterbacks coach Caleb) Borghardt hired before any of this happened.

"We got the chance to do some individual drills. As far as the building blocks of football, we were able to get them in place."

And since the coronavirus quarantine began, the coaching staff and players have used Zoom meetings to continue to study film, talk formations and prep for the season opener against Midwestern State on Sept. 5 at QU Stadium.

"If you are one of the people willing to put the time in and actually get the mental reps down and really dedicate yourself to studying the playbook, then it comes easy," Mosley said. "They are making it easy where a lot of things marry up to where it's not extremely hard."

Mosley has never been afraid to put in the effort.

He saw limited snaps in seven games as a true freshman in 2017 and redshirted the 2018 season after dealing with a shoulder injury. It forced him to spend the entire season on the sideline with a headset on, but it might have been the most critical part of his maturation to date.

"That was a big turning point in my career because I learned so much," Mosley said. "I had never been a kid to sit on the sideline and I had never missed a season. This right here is like missing half a season. I feel like I'm already experienced with what to do. I'm not lost like some kids might be because they haven't had the opportunity to sit back and learn the mental side of football."

Mosley backed up Andrew Rund last season, playing in eight games while completing 18 of 28 passes with three touchdowns. Fully healthy, it fueled his desire to be the starter and run the offense.

"I am ready," Mosley said. "I think it's well overdue."

He's committed to proving his time has come, and he's convinced his teammates are intent on doing the same thing. That's why the Zoom meetings have been so productive and the coaching staff is confident the Hawks will be prepared to start reps when they return to campus.

"Everybody is on the same mission," Mosley said. "Everybody is on the same boat and really wants to be good, so nobody has fallen off."